True universal heroes rise from humble beginnings to make a universal impact as visionaries for all times. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was one such hero who was born on the 9thof November 1877 in Sialkot and died on the 21st ofApril, 1938, a few years before Pakistan came into being. There is no better time than to remember Allama Iqbal on 14th of August, the national poet and one of the founding fathers of Pakistan, who is known in the vernacular as “Shair-e-Mashriq” or “The Poet of the East”. His ideas inspired Quaid-e-Azam for the making of Pakistan. Allama Iqbal was a philosopher-scholar of Islam: “Allama” means scholar; he is also known as “Muffakir-e-Pakistan”, the thinker of Pakistan. He was a lawyer, theorist, politician, writer, a polymath, and also known as the “Hakeem-ul-Ummat” or “The Sage of the Ummah” of the community of the believers. Iqbal came from a very humble background. His father was a tailor who lacked formal education and who drew descent from Hindu Brahmins. As a child, Iqbal studied at a local school or madrassa in Sialkot headed by Syed Mir Hassan who was also an Arabic teacher at Sialkot Scotch Mission School where Hassan persuaded Iqbal’s father to allow him to study. Inspired by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who encouraged all the Muslims of India to get education, Hassan succeeded in influencing Iqbal’s father to allow Iqbal to study in the missionary school to attain an education led by Christians. In India and Pakistan missionary schools have always been considered some of the best schools in the region. From here, Iqbal joined Government College Lahore, where he met Professor Thomas Arnold. Arnold on seeing the spark of philosophy and knowledge in Iqbal encouraged him to acquire further studies in the west. This is when Allama Iqbal also just discovered the works of Maulana Rumi. Iqbal got into the prestigious Trinity College at the University of Cambridge to do a B.A. in 1907, while simultaneously studying Law at Lincoln’s Inn. Most students would struggle with one degree at a prestigious university, but Iqbal in the same year also undertook a Ph.D. in Germany at the Faculty of Philosophy at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. In his complex Ph.D. thesis, which I read with great interest, titled, The Development of Metaphysics in Persia, Iqbal traces the development of metaphysics in Persia from the time of Zarathusthra (the Parsi faith) to the Baha’i faith. Iqbal, being a firm Muslim, drew inspiration from the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and also engaged intellectually with the ideas of various faiths, wisdoms and philosophies. “We are, like other things Partakers of this struggle, and it is our duty to range ourselves on the side of Light which will eventually prevail completely and vanquish the spirit of Darkness” Zoroaster’s view of the destiny of the soul is very simple. The soul, according to him, is a creation, not a part of God. It had a beginning in time, but can attain to everlasting life by fighting against Evil in the earthly scene of its activity. It is free to choose between the only two courses of action: good and evil. Through knowledge, philosophy, religion and ethics, Iqbal is interacting, learning and drawing inspiration from different faiths. In his book, Javaidnama, Iqbal reveres Buddha as a special figure of inspiration. Iqbal, being a firm Muslim, drew inspiration from the Holy Prophet, and also engaged intellectually with the ideas of various faiths, wisdoms and philosophies. In his Ph.D. thesis, Iqbal emphasizes, “I have tried to maintain that Sufism is a necessary product of the play of various intellectual and moral forces which would necessarily awaken the slumbering soul to a higher ideal of life.” In 1906, Iqbal joined the All-India Muslim League where, in 1908, he was elected to the executive committee of its British wing. Within a short period of time, he had attained the highest degrees, become a qualified lawyer, scholar, and politician. Tracing Iqbal’s journey through Pakistan and Europe, I was appointed on the selection committee of Government College Lahore where I saw a panel honouring Allama Iqbal, and then Ambassador Akbar Ahmed honoured him through a research project called Journey into Europe (during 2015-2018). We travelled to the places abroad where Iqbal had clearly left his distinguished marks. It seemed to me that while attaining knowledge in the West, Iqbal had re-discovered his own identity, his own selfhood which was inspired by the notion of knowledge: ilm. Knowledge that was rooted in the book, the Holy Quran, and embodied in Rasul Allah and pointed directed to beloved Allah. Having been through the process of lapidary where Iqbal was interacting with eastern and western religions and philosophies, he developed an overwhelming sense of identity and awareness. On his return to the subcontinent (then today’s India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and so forth) he saw how members of his own faith community lacked vision, confidence, education and know-how. This was also just around and after the time when Sir Sayed was calling for Muslims to gain positive pride in who they are and to participate in society and contribute to the wider goals. Seeing the huge gap of Muslims whose power, lands, status, language had been snatched away like a rug under their feet were resisting colonial rule and everything that symbolized colonialism including its dress, language, behaviour, etc. Muslims as a community were demoralized and as a result marginalized. Iqbal rallied them and persuaded Quaid-e-Azam to lead the Muslims out of seeing themselves as the oppressed victims and to have pride in their own being and selfhood. This interaction happened in the UK. Quaid-e-Azam inspired by Allama Iqbal’s letters came back to the subcontinent and would battle, despite his own severely ill health which would cost him his life a year into the creation of Pakistan, to attain the goal of an independent land for freeing oppressed Muslims of the subcontinent and for their fellow brothers and sisters of all faiths. According to Javaid Iqbal, Iqbal’s son who I had the pleasure of meeting several times, there are five qualities that Allama Iqbal wanted the future generations to develop within them which are also the qualities of a “shaheen”. They are ‘buland parwaz, teznigah, khilwatpasand, Aashiyana, and self-dependency. These qualities are relevant to individuals but also very relevant to the development of a nation: These are valuable lessons- for both older and young people – for living a dynamic, enlightened and creative life, contributing to one’s own society, nation and the world. By interacting with and learning from both the East and the West, Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam became the special leaders and visionaries who continue to inspire thousands of people. Today, we can learn from their method of being inclusive, creative, empathetic, open minded, forgiving, hard working and valuable global citizens, drawing from the ocean of knowledge from whichever source it is found. The writer is an author of Gems and Jewels: the Religions of Pakistan.